Navigating Military Life: Honors, Customs, and Ceremonies

Section Two: Military Customs

Bugle calls are used as tradition and to manage and regulate the military day.

Bugle calls are used with the raising and lowering of the national flag. “Reveille” is played in the morning, around 0600 or 6:00 AM, to signify the raising of the flag and the official start of the duty day. “Retreat” is played around 1700 or 5:00 PM when the flag is lowered and signifies the official end of the day. Civilians should honor the flag by standing quietly and facing it. Military members in uniform must stand at attention and salute, and if in a vehicle, they must get out of the car and render appropriate honors. “Taps” is the last bugle call of the day and signals that lights are to be turned off. It is also commonly played at special ceremonies and military funerals. Again, members of the military or veterans should salute, and civilians may place their right hand over their heart. Select the Resources tab to download the handout, Flag Etiquette and Honors, to learn more about honoring those who served.

There are many ceremonies that may occur during an individual’s military career.

It is likely that you may have already attended a military ceremony, such as a military graduation ceremony. This may be the first ceremony military family members experience, and it recognizes the successful completion of a military school. Every ceremony is performed in various formats. There are some repeated protocols, such as the reading of the official order for an award, but many of the celebrations have different procedures. Roll your mouse over the image to the right to learn more about some of the more common military ceremonies.